“What’s your body count?” “What is an acceptable body count?” If you’re a vulva owner in India you’ve probably heard these questions either asked to you or whispered around you in all kinds of conversations from friendly ones to ones with potential or existing romantic partners.
What is body count?
If like me, the first thing that you thought of when hearing the term “body count” is synonymous to murder or the number of enemy asses kicked in a video game, you’re in for a bit of a shock!
In recent years, a person’s body count is the number of people they have slept with. It has somehow become a trend to casually ask people how many sexual partners they’ve had. The process is something similar to demanding a sexual history file.
The body count hashtag on TikTok has 286.9 million views.
In fact, the trend has caught on so much that someone recently asked Adele her body count while she was doing an Instagram live! Adele, bless her heart, as someone who largely spends her time offline, was the picture of confusion.
The problem with body count
“Sure it seems a little invasive but what’s the big deal about the concept of body count?” you might be wondering. On the surface, body count seems like a harmless question but in reality it signifies a much larger problem in casual and romantic dating culture. The problem of misogynistic sexual shaming and sexist double standards. After all, once the question is posed and answered, the traditional process it follows is that of judgement laden with societal bias. Not only is the question about body count asked more often to vulva owners but the answers and the body count of vulva owners is judged more harshly than that of the penis owners. A higher body count for vulva owners may lead to slut shaming or derogatory comments whereas a higher count for penis owners may be encouraged and congratulated.
According to a 2011 study slut-shaming is experienced by 50% of girls, compared with 20% of boys.
The reactions and judgement to body count reflect the slut-stud paradox that is deeply entrenched in our society. Vulva owners with a high number of sexual partners are labelled as “sluts” whereas penis owners with a high number of sexual partners are called “studs”, which is a much more favorable title and in some cases is considered an attractive one.
This phenomenon is so widespread that famous stars and celebrities aren’t spared either! Recently, Taylor Swift took to twitter to express her disappointment with the writers of a Netflix show, Ginny and Georgia for airing a dialogue supposedly taking a dig at the number of her past partners. No stranger to the double standards and sexism in the industry, Taylor has also penned a song “The Man” about the same. She points out how differently men like Leonardo DiCaprio are received for having multiple sexual partners. They gain a “player status” of sorts that only builds the allure of their reputation.
Body count reeks of Heteronormativity
The conversation about body count also eventually opens up another can of worms: a conversation about what’s considered “real sex”. Nine times out of ten, when people are asking you about your body count they only want to know about penetrative sex. For decades, penis in vagina sex has been given a higher than necessary status with phrases like “going all the way” and “sealing the deal”. Anything other than p in v sex is seen as less than”. The concept of body count is designed to exclude queer and trans folk.
Does sexual history matter?
Depending on who you’re asking you’re bound to get different answers. Whether it’s a romantic partner or an acquaintance at a party, no one is entitled to information about your sexual history. What and when you choose to reveal something should be entirely up to you. When it comes to sexual partners, one would argue that disclosing your sexual history is important to avoid the risk of STIs. This notion is rooted in a common stereotype about polyamory and casual relationships. Having multiple sexual partners does not necessarily carry a higher risk of STIs than having a single sexual partner. Using condoms is necessary to prevent STIs in both cases! Being upfront and honest about your STI status with your current sexual partner is important. Read our complete blog on sexual experience in a relationship for more.
Body count is an outdated, unfair and irrelevant standard of assessment. There is no meaningful value added to a conversation or a relationship between two people after the great reveal of their body counts. Well…unless you’re planning a massive orgy of course in which case, take out your pen and note their numbers as well! If you’re thinking about asking a potential partner on a date about her body count, think twice. Ask her about her favorite flowers or the last book she liked instead. Or if you’re talking about sex, ask her about her fantasies and if she has tried sex toys before. Thank us later.